top of page

Country Portrait

Here you will find some informative information about the country and the current situation of the Jewish population. We have compiled this information to the best of our abilities without claiming that it represents all truths.

Belarus, also known as Weissrussland («White Russia») in German, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. The total area of their national territory is around 207,600 km2. The country borders Russia to the east, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, Latvia to the north, and Lithuania to the northeast.


The population of Belarus is approximately 9.5 million people, with 2 million people living in the capital Minsk. The official national languages are Belarusian and Russian. Polish, Ukrainian, German, and Yiddish are minority languages. Most of the population speaks Russian in everyday life, due to the language policy of the former Soviet republic and the current government.

(Belarusian names, as recorded by Wikipedia, are used for the cities mentioned on this website. In addition, the cities' Russian names are included in brackets).


Almost 75% of the Belarusians are Orthodox Christians, and nearly 10% are Catholic. There are also Muslim, Jewish, Protestant, and other religious minorities.


Alexander Lukashenko has ruled the Presidential Republic since 1994. Belarus's most important political, economic, and cultural partner is Russia.

Important Historical Facts



  • After the division of the Polish-Lithuanian Empire in the 18th Century, Belarusian territories and Lithuania fell under the rule of the Russian Tsarist Empire.


  • The Belarusian Democratic Republic (BNR) was founded on March 25, 1918, under German occupation. In January 1919, following the Soviet invasion, that government was replaced by the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR). In the minds of many Belarusians, this act is considered to be the actual origin of the founding of the state.


  • Between 1921 and 1945, the territory of present-day Belarus was divided between Poland and the BSSR (Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic).

  • During Stalin's terror in the 1930s, more than 100,000 Belarusians were murdered, and thousands more were deported to Siberian labor camps.


  • During the invasion of the USSR by Nazi Germany in World War II, more than two million Soviet people were murdered. While those murdered mainly were Jews, many non-Jews were also killed. By the winter of 1943, most Belarusian Jews and almost half of the 2.5 million Jews of Ukraine were murdered, and their Jewish culture was destroyed.


  • In 1986, a nuclear catastrophe occurred in the Ukrainian city of Chernobyl, causing unimaginable damage to people and agriculture in Belarus.


  • During and leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Republic of Belarus declared its independence on July 3rd, 1991. This date is now officially celebrated as Belarus's Independence Day.


  • Since 1995, the state flag of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR) is red and green, with a traditional white embroidery pattern on the left edge, but without the communist symbols of the hammer and sickle.

  • Especially in connection with the presidential election in 2020, there were violent protests and strikes directed against the proclamation of President Lukashenko as the renewed winner of the election. 


  • On February 24, 2022, Russian troops attacked Ukraine. The previous deployment also took place on the territory of Belarus, and Russian troops then crossed the border from Belarus.

Sources and further information:

  • Fischer world almanac

  • Federal Agency for Civic Education

  • Encyclopedia of Eastern Europe (EEO)

  • BBC

  • Radio FreeEurope

  • Konrad Adenauer Foundation

bottom of page